4 firefighters injured after unlicensed driver hits stopped engine at 90 mph

Tibbs Avenue firetruck crash (Provided Photo/IFD)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Four firefighters are recovering after a driver slammed into their fire engine at a fire station.

It happened around 9:15 p.m. Friday night at IFD Station 30, located in the 2400 block of North Tibbs Avenue, when authorities say a 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse hit a stopped fire engine as firefighters were preparing to back it into the firehouse.

Officers say the driver, a 24-year-old man driving without a license or insurance, was traveling at roughly 90 mph and told them he did not see the engine before he crashed into its rear right corner, pushing the fire engine 10 feet onto the sidewalk. Crews said the man jumped out of his car and attempted to flee the scene but returned when firefighters asked him to do so.

The following four firefighters were in the fire engine when the crash occurred: Lt. Djuana Foster, a 26-year veteran; Engineer Nick Holcomb, a nine-year veteran; Private Angie Patterson, a 16-year veteran; and Private Branden Throgmorton, with IFD a year and a half.

While all four firefighters were wearing seat belts while the engine returned to the station, two had unbuckled and were preparing to open the doors when the crash occurred. Foster was thrown about the cabin, landing under the officer’s side dashboard, and Patterson landed on the floor of the back of the engine’s cab. All four firefighters were able to get out of the engine on their own and were able to check the driver of the Eclipse for injuries.

The firefighters were transported to Methodist Hospital for treatment, all in good condition but with a variety of injuries. The driver of the car was taken to Eskenazi Hospital in good condition.

Investigators from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department estimated the car’s skid marks to stretch 103 feet before the car hit the engine.

Rita Reith with IFD said in a release Friday night that the firefighters were lucky to have not sustained more serious injuries, and that had the crew been exiting the engine, “the outcome of this incident could have been catastrophic.”